Travis Thompson – Infrastructure Consultant, MCSA
Ever wonder what are the five most important things you could do to keep your work and/or PCs running smoothly and securely? Here are my top 5:
1. Install updates – check for and install your Adobe software updates (Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Air, etc.); Java updates; and Windows updates on a regular basis. Your Systems Administrator should centrally manage Windows updates. You’ll have to install the Adobe and Java updates yourself (or ask someone else to) if you don’t have a third-party utility. For Adobe and Java, don’t depend on the automatic updater for version changes (e.g., 10 to 11), only minor updates.
2. Dust regularly – this gets ignored a lot but is essential. Open your computer case and use compressed air to dust your PC; including the ventilation grill; clean the fan blades and wipe down the outside of the case regularly. Laptops, too. Dust the keyboard and ventilation with compressed air. This easy cleaning routine will prevent components from overheating and will lengthen their lifespan.
3. Use your Windows firewall and anti-malware software, and change your password regularly – turning on your Windows firewall will minimize the attack surface when you are connected to the Internet or on a networked computer. Keep your anti-malware software current: it’s only as good as its latest update. And, change your login password as well to keep hackers on their toes. Don’t use dictionary words or names, which can eventually be discovered by hacker software. The more complex the password is, the harder it is to crack. (Do make sure you can remember it.) As a rule, include at least 3 out of these 4 categories among your characters: capital letter; lowercase letter; numeral; symbol – e.g., ! @ # $ % ^ .
4. Back up your PC – regular backups will save you a lot of time and frustration if your computer crashes, not to mention if you accidentally delete an important file. Periodically test your backups to make sure you can actually restore the data.
5. Use discretion when online – there are people out there with malicious intentions who try to trick unsuspecting users into doing things they didn’t intend to do. They will try to trick you into downloading malware, giving them money or allowing access to your personal information. So, what are some basic things we can do to keep ourselves protected?
• Don’t buy from individuals or companies that aren’t reputable.
• Don’t give out personal information.
• Hover your mouse over links before you click on them to ensure that they are correct.
• If you are unsure about something, ask!